Sen. Melendez Introduces SB 350 in Response to Surges in Fentanyl-Related Deaths

SACRAMENTO –California State Sen. Melissa Melendez. R- Lake Elsinore, has introduced Senate Bill 350 today, to combat Fentanyl-related deaths and honor a constituent’s daughter, Alexandra Capelouto, a 20-year-old college student who died of drug poisoning while visiting home for the holidays in 2019.

“As a mother of five children, I can’t imagine the pain of losing a child to drug poisoning, Melendez said in a prepared statement. “This pandemic has led to a devastating rise in fentanyl-induced deaths across California.”

Senate Bill 350 addresses implied malice for drug fatalities by addressing them in a similar fashion to implied malice for driving under the influence crimes. Similarly, this bill requires the court to issue an advisory to individuals convicted of selling or distributing controlled substances under California Health and Safety Code Sections 11351, 11352 or 11379.6. This proposed advisory will provide a person convicted of these crimes with a warning that their actions could result in another person’s death and lead to a homicide charge.

“It’s past time to hold drug dealers accountable before more parents are forced to bury their children,” said Melendez. “Law enforcement needs the tools to go after drug dealers who prey on kids. Alexandra’s law provides a valuable first step in getting this fentanyl epidemic under control and most importantly – saving lives.”

The U.S. government does not track death rates for every drug. However, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention collects information on deaths involving many of the more commonly used drugs available through 2019 at a searchable database, called CDC Wonder. The NCHS also has 12 month-ending provisional data available by state and drug category.

Overall, drug overdose deaths rose from 2018 to 2019 with 70,630 drug overdose deaths reported in 2019. Deaths involving other synthetic opioids other than methadone (primarily fentanyl) continued to rise with more than 36,359 overdose deaths reported in 2019, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. 


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  • Fentanyl: Shutterstock